Maldives’ Human Capital Grows Amid Educational and Gender Employment Challenges

The World Bank Group’s Human Capital Review on the Maldives offers a comprehensive analysis of the nation’s potential to utilize its human capital fully. According to the report, a child born in the Maldives today is expected to achieve 59.6% of their full potential by the age of 18, considering the current state of health and education. This figure positions the Maldives above its regional counterparts, small island states, and countries within the same income bracket, particularly highlighting its superior performance in survival rates up to age 5 and age 65.

Despite these positive indicators, the report identifies significant challenges that need addressing to maximize human capital fully. The quality of education emerges as a critical area of concern. While Maldivian children are expected to complete 12.4 years of education, the adjusted figure for the quality of learning drops to 8.17 years, indicating a substantial loss in potential schooling years compared to benchmarks such as Upper Middle-Income Countries (UMICs) and South Asia.

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The analysis further reveals a gender disparity in employment rates, which significantly impacts the Utilization-adjusted Human Capital Index (UHCI), particularly among women. The national UHCI for the Maldives is 0.366, a decrease from the Human Capital Index (HCI) of 0.596, highlighting untapped human capital and potential for national growth. This disparity is more pronounced among women, indicating a need for policies that address female employment rates to improve human capital utilization.

The report also uncovers substantial disparities at the subnational level, with children in different regions facing varying prospects of realizing their full potential. For instance, a child born in Malé is expected to achieve 64% of their potential, compared to 54% for a child born in the Central Region. These disparities are primarily driven by differences in education outcomes, with children in Malé predicted to attain two more years of schooling than their counterparts in the Central Region. Such inequalities are further exacerbated when considering the quality of education, which significantly affects future earnings potential and productivity.

Stunting rates among children under five present another area of concern, with only 85% of children not stunted, a figure that, while better than the South Asia average, still trails behind the average for UMICs. This issue, along with the gender disparities in education and employment, points to broader social challenges that need to be addressed to improve human capital development in the Maldives.

The report concludes by emphasizing the need for targeted interventions to address the identified challenges, particularly in education and employment, to enhance the Maldives’ human capital potential. It suggests that addressing these issues could lead to significant improvements in productivity and economic growth, benefiting the country’s development trajectory. The World Bank Group’s analysis provides crucial insights into the opportunities and challenges facing the Maldives in realizing its human capital potential, offering a valuable resource for policymakers aiming to harness the full capabilities of their populations.

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